Fresh off the presses this week, Charles Wheelan
's newest book, Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data,
recently got the Salon
treatment. The magazine featured a teaser excerpt
of Wheelan's follow-up to the wildly successful Naked Economics
earlier this month, leaving audiences with a taste of the author's aptitude for making numbers come alive. "Statistics cannot be any smarter than the people who use them," the excerpt reads. "And in some cases, they can make smart people do dumb things." He then goes on to describe "one of the most irresponsible uses of statistics in recent memory," using prose that is as mathematically accurate as it is dramatic and attention-grabbing. His book reads like a dramatic thriller, with twists and turns exposing the intriguing insight that can be gained from understanding statistical analysis. Further, it is accessible enough to allow even the most number-phobic the ability to become engrossed in the material.
He uses real-life scenarios to illustrate how proper—and improper—use of statistics can dramatically alter a situation in such a way that the reader doesn't even notice how much they are learning about statistical theory. Wheelan is the writer of Yahoo!'s popular "Naked Economics" column and a regular contributor to NPR. He was the former Midwest correspondent for The Economist
and lectures on public policy at the University of Chicago. His speeches and his writing demand attention and offer invaluable takeaways. As data becomes an increasingly important part of our life, Wheelan advocates for a better understanding of the numbers that have broad social implications and define the choices that we make in life.